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With a hangman's noose behind me, here I am. Monroe, Ohio, one long step closer to San Francisco, the iron was hot; it was time to strike.
The bunting draped on the porch of the Congress Hotel was beginning to fade; a sure sign that they had gathered up a whole bunch of eager young farm boys and were now looking for someone who could herd them, someone like me. If they were like most volunteer outfits, the higher officers would be local politicians and businessmen and the lower grades would be a bevy of young college men, all of them very loyal, sincere and incompetent. The placard tacked up at a crossroads spoke of the need for all gallant men aged 18 to 35 to strike a blow in the defense of the Union. Ruffin’s Rifles, they were called, otherwise they were known as the 57th Infantry Regiment of Ohio Volunteers. They were paying a hundred dollars to any healthy volunteer who signed up for a year of service. A veteran like me ought to be worth at least twice that much. The old sergeant’s shirt I’d paid half a dollar for was well worth the investment. The weather was on my side, there was no need for a coat that would cover the un-faded area that had been covered by the chevrons; my credentials as veteran were plain for all to see. The discharge form had cost me ten times as much, but with a little luck no one would ever see it. Now all I had to do was be bold.
There were at least a dozen homemade officers clustered on the porch, all looking mighty aware of their martial splendor in their well tailored shiny new blue uniforms. There were only four or five ladies adding their greater splendor to the scene; all of them were married looking, not that that disqualified them for anything. As I had come through town there had been younger girls in chattering clusters all along the street, probably they had left the rally point when the young recruits had been marched away. Those magnificent creatures will be back for tomorrow’s session.